Sushma Swaraj (1952-2019)

Sushma Swaraj’s special bond with Ballari

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj with B.S. Yediyurappa, the late Ananth Kumar, G. Janardhana Reddy, and G. Karunakar Reddy in Ballari. She came in touch with the Reddy brothers in 1999 but snapped links when they got entangled in illegal mining cases.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj with B.S. Yediyurappa, the late Ananth Kumar, G. Janardhana Reddy, and G. Karunakar Reddy in Ballari. She came in touch with the Reddy brothers in 1999 but snapped links when they got entangled in illegal mining cases.  

She had unsuccessfully contested the 1999 LS polls against Sonia Gandhi

Veteran BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who was cremated on Wednesday, shared a special bond with Ballari. Even before the Karnataka BJP unit became a strong force, the firebrand leader made the country look at the State BJP as one that can take up big contests, through her high-profile contest against former AICC president Sonia Gandhi from the Ballari Lok Sabha seat in 1999.

It was in a surprise turn of events when Ms. Gandhi chose her party’s strong bastion of Ballari as her second seat of contest in 1999. The BJP, which then had a tie-up with the Janata Dal (U), fielded Sushma against Ms. Gandhi. Though Sushma lost the poll battle by close to 60,000 votes, her handling of the campaign drew the attention of the country.

A BJP functionary, who worked closely with Sushma then, recalls how she built her poll campaign around local issues that were in tune with the party’s national narrative of targeting Ms. Gandhi’s “foreigner” identity. She camped in the house of a local doctor and surprised everyone by learning bits of functional Kannada. Despite being a mineral-rich district, Ballari was then known for its garment industries than mining activities. In a scenario marked by the constituency’s poor economic profile, she tried to empathise with the middle-class voters through her affable persona.

Link with Reddy brothers

It was during this time that she came in contact with the Ballari Reddy brothers, who used to refer to her as “mother”. The Reddy brothers, who were then ordinary party workers, turned to be high-profile miners later. But a strong loyalist of the party, she severed links with them when the party maintained distance when they got entangled in illegal mining cases. The party organisation still feels that her contest then helped Ballari become a BJP stronghold in the years to come.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 2:16:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sushmas-special-bond-with-ballari/article28872698.ece

Next Story